Lobby group welcomes decision to suspend Slane bypass project

On behalf of Save Newgrange, I would like to thank all our thousands of supporters for helping persuade the Government that the Slane Bypass is not a viable economic project. Please join is in demanding the HGV ban is immediately implemented in Slane. The story was on RTE Radio One Drivetime yesterday, and is featured in the papers today, below:

Lobby group welcomes decision to suspend Slane bypass project

The Irish Times – Wednesday, August 10, 2011

By Fiona gartland

A GROUP which lobbied against the Slane bypass because of its impact on the Brú na Bóinne heritage site has welcomed a decision by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to suspend its development. Mr Varadkar recently said no new road projects were to start in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and only six projects already under way would be completed this year. The Minister has instructed the National Roads Authority to bring all road projects in planning to the end of their current planning stage and then suspend them with a view to reopening them in the future.

Only the N25 Cork SRR interchanges, the N3 Belturbet bypass, the N5 Longford bypass, the N22 Tralee bypass, the N4 Downs Grade Separation and the N52 Carrickbridge to Dalystown will go ahead this year. The Slane bypass had been the subject of an oral hearing and is currently under consideration by An Bord Pleanála. Local residents in Slane had lobbied for its construction because of the high level of road deaths on and around the town’s bridge. However heritage groups had expressed outrage at the choice of route for the bypass, which brought it close to Brú na Bóinne, a Unesco world heritage site.

Vincent Salafia, spokesman for Save Newgrange, said the group was relieved by confirmation that the Slane bypass was among the projects suspended. “The county council’s own expert, along with numerous internationally renowned experts, advised against the proposed route because of the damage it would do to the world heritage site,” he said. He called on Meath County Council, the National Roads Authority and the Minister to work together to implement a HGV ban in the village.In a statement yesterday, the Department of Transport said it would be “reckless and irresponsible to spend €20-€30 million a year” to bring roads projects on to their next planning stage when there was no money to build them and they were “struggling to find adequate funds to maintain existing roads”. The same decision was taken for the Luas BXD, Metro North and Dart Underground projects on which €200 million had been spent.

[Write letters to lettersed@irishtimes.com calling for HGV ban]

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Fury as bypass put on hold despite grim toll of 22 deaths

Irish Independent – Wednesday August 10 2011
By Breda Heffernan, Elaine Keogh and Paddy Clancy

RESIDENTS are furious that plans for a bypass of Slane have been suspended despite 22 people having lost their lives on a horrific ‘bottleneck stretch of road’. The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that a €50m project to bypass the Co Meath village would be suspended for at least three years due to government cutbacks. The project is currently before An Bord Pleanala which is expected to deliver its ruling before the end of the year.

Concerned residents yesterday said it was “devastating” to abandon the project at this stage. Niamh O’Broin, a local mother of two young children, said safety and preventing deaths is the sole reason for the bypass. “When people talk about this bypass, it is not about how many minutes you can save on your journey from Dublin to Derry. It is synonymous with safety and saving lives, not shaving off minutes in the car.”

Dangerous

The road through the village is particularly dangerous as it has steep inclines on both sides of the River Boyne with a sharp turn on to the bridge in between. Ms O’Broin was involved in a serious accident in March 2009 when a heavy goods vehicle lost control on the top of the hill, causing a nine-car pile-up. “The problems in the village have not gone away despite the 30km speed limit,” she warned. Michele Power, a spokeswoman for the Slane Bridge Action Group, said it would be “devastating” to have the plans shelved, adding, “it would be pennywise and pound foolish with people’s lives”.

Fianna Fail councillor Wayne Harding said it was extraordinary that local Fine Gael TD and Minister of State for Agriculture Shane McEntee, had joined residents on numerous marches demanding a bypass, yet was now part of an administration calling a halt to the project. “If this administration shelves this project, there is every possibility they will end up with blood on their hands,” he warned.

However, Mr McEntee yesterday insisted there was “no change” in the position of the proposed bypass. In a statement, Mr McEntee said the bypass would still be brought through An Bord Pleanala and, if approved, lands would be bought, bringing the project to “shovel ready” status. However, he failed to mention that the project would then be suspended along with dozens of others until funds become available, something Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has already confirmed. Based on current plans, no new road projects will be started between 2012 and 2014. The Slane bypass, a 3.5km stretch of dual carriageway, is estimated to cost up to €50m.

– Breda Heffernan, Elaine Keogh and Paddy Clancy

[Write to independent.letters@unison.independent.ie]

Statement by Shane MacEntee

‘There is absolutely no change in the position regarding a road bypass for Slane, in county Meath’, Shane McEntee TD has said. He continued: ‘I spoke this morning to the Office of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and I have confirmed with them that there is no change in the progress of the bypass. This project is currently before An Bord Pleanala. It will be brought through An Bord Pleanala. If they approve it, there will be a requirement to start purchasing the necessary land within 18 months of approval being granted for a scheme. I have been assured that the project will be brought through the land purchase stage as well. This will bring the project to ‘shovel ready’ status’.

Shane McEntee also said: ‘Only three weeks ago Leo Varadkar’s Department met the National Roads Authority and confirmed to them that the Slane by-pass is among the ‘top five’ priority road projects to be completed by them, once planning approval has been received. The NRA has allocated €2 million to bring the project through to the next stages. These are the facts in relation to the bypass, contrary to the inaccurate report in today’s ‘Irish Independent’ and the opportunistic statement issued by Senator Thomas Byrne based on that report.’

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